Martina Ni­land, the wom­an­be­hind Once

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

If Martina Ni­land were not al­ready known as the queen of low-bud­get Ir­ish movies, her coro­na­tion would have come with the re­mark­able suc­cess that has been Once, which she pro­duced. Once was voted best for­eign film at the US In­de­pen­dent Spirit Awards last Satur­day and won the Os­car for Best Orig­i­nal Song the next day.

From West­port, Co Mayo, Ni­land grad­u­ated with an hon­ours de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tions (film and broad­cast­ing) from DIT Aungier St, Dublin, and within a year was hired by Sam­son Films. Her brief was to work on de­vel­op­ing projects and to nur­ture new tal­ent. Her first fea­tures as a pro­ducer were Karl Golden’s spiky rom­com, The Hon­ey­moon­ers, and Perry Og­den’s Pavee Lac­k­een.

And then there was Once. Di­rec­tor John Car­ney gave Ni­land his script and showed her footage on his lap­top of Glen Hansard and Markéta Ir­glová per­form­ing Fall­ing Slowly.

Once was shot over 17 days in Dublin. “We hit the streets, just 12 of us, and with two small digi-cam­eras,” Ni­land told Reel News in Los An­ge­les this week. She wor­ried when it was turned down by sev­eral ma­jor fes­ti­vals, but a Sun­dance programmer saw it at the 2006 Gal­way Film Fleadh. Once took the au­di­ence award at Sun­dance, earned more than $9 mil­lion in the US and now has an Os­car.

“It‘s been phe­nom­e­nal,” says Ni­land, who has many more projects in de­vel­op­ment. “I can’t think of an­other word for it.”

Ni­land: have Os­car, will travel

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